Organising Precarious Workers: Trade Union and Co-operative Strategies
A report for the TUC from Co-operatives UK and the Co-operative College
The trade union movement faces a number of big challenges as it seeks to continue to be a genuine and effective voice for working people. Not least amongst these is how trade unions organise and represent the ever increasing number of people in vulnerable or precarious employment. One emerging way to help vulnerable workers make their jobs better is through the formation of worker co-operatives.
The TUC, as part of its Rethinking Organising series, asked Co-operatives UK and the Co-operative College to report on the good practice examples of vulnerable and self-employed workers self- organising and working with trade unions in the UK, Europe and in the Unites States and to set out their recommendations on how this work between trade unions and co-operatives can be developed and widened.
The world of work is changing in dramatic ways. The three main types of insecure work, casual, zero-hours and self-employment, are all on the increase. Ongoing labour market deregulation, the impact of information technology and the new gig economy means income, hours, days or even work locations can no longer be guaranteed as employment rights are eroded. More and more workers are becoming socially isolated. This and flexible working raises barriers for organising the rapidly growing precarious workforce. Our aim in this report is to explore how trade unions and co-operatives can work together to challenge precarity and secure decent work.